Biden’s post-midterm honeymoon shows signs of ending
The post-midterm honeymoon President Biden experienced in recent months could be coming to an end.
Biden experienced a boost following the midterm elections with a better-than-expected outcome that had Democrats holding their Senate majority and losing the House — but keeping their losses down.
The president has also been bolstered by record-high jobs numbers and a slowdown in inflation, boosting his confidence ahead of his reelection year.
But as he prepares to speak to the nation during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, polls show a shift in public sentiment following a rocky start to the new year.
News of the discovery of classified documents at the president’s former office in Washington, D.C., and his Wilmington, Del., home dominated the headlines during January. Gas prices have ticked upward again. And last week, Republicans blasted Biden for his handling of a Chinese spy balloon, saying the surveillance device should have been shot down immediately and calling the president “weak.”
As Biden prepares to announce his reelection bid in the coming weeks, a survey out on Monday from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 37 percent of Democrats say they want Biden to run again for reelection, a significant slip from the fall when 52 percent said they wanted Biden to seek a second term.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll out this week also showed that 62 percent of Americans say Biden has not achieved much during his first two years in office.
“President Biden should be gravely concerned about his shaky position in the polls,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon.
Another strategist said Biden has to acknowledge these polls on some level and seek to get on offense before the campaign cycle begins.
“There are clearly some things that are concerning to Democrats and independents as Biden prepares to run for reelection,” said one Democratic strategist who asked for anonymity to discuss the situation facing the president.
“Things have gotten better, inflation continues to slow down, but I think all these waves of layoffs and talk of recession spooks a lot of voters. The economy seems like it’s on shaky ground and that’s a concern to voters.”
The Washington Post-ABC poll also indicated that in a hypothetical 2024 match-up, former President Trump leads Biden by a slim margin, 48 percent to 45 percent.
For the last two years, Biden has told supporters that he’s the only Democrat who can beat Trump, pointing to his victory in 2020 and saying he’ll be able to deliver the same result in 2024.
But on Monday, Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio who served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama said that the poll “undermines Biden’s central argument for re-nomination.”
“Two years is forever and it’s just one poll, but if he’s faring this poorly after a string of wins, that should be worrisome,” Castro wrote in a post on Twitter.
Democrats also remain uncertain if Biden — who will turn 81 later this year — will be a formidable candidate against someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, should he choose to enter the race as many expect.
“I think his age remains the biggest factor,” the strategist said.
Another Democratic strategist said there’s no reason for concern at this point.
“There’s never been over-the-top enthusiasm for the Biden presidency, outside of the first six months post-inauguration,” the strategist said. “And yet, there’s even less enthusiasm for someone else. Part of that is because Biden — and Democrats in general — allow there to be disagreements within the family on policy and will still come home to him.
“It’s hard to be enthusiastic when we just went through a pandemic, and people are still skittish about the economy,” the strategist added. “Plus, we have right-wing media telling us every day how terrible things are.”
Biden aides and allies have sought to hammer home the idea that the president has achieved more during this administration than any other modern-day president.
“The proof is in the pudding,” the first strategist said. “He’s had huge legislative victories and he’s had even bigger economic victories.”
The strategist and other allies said they don’t put much stock in polls.
“He’s been underestimated since the last campaign and he’s always come out on top,” the strategist said.
As he prepares to run for reelection, Biden will hit the road in the coming weeks to tout his legislative achievements, seeking to convince voters he’s done more than they realize. He’ll focus on the stimulus plan approved a few months into his term in the midst of the pandemic, as well as the climate, health care and tax measure known as the Inflation Reduction Act and legislation to help the nation’s semiconductor industry.
Bannon said the State of the Union address and the subsequent travel will be an opportunity for Biden to “make a compelling case for reelection” and change the narrative around his accomplishments.
“Starting Tuesday, the president needs to be much more aggressive selling his successes,” he said. “It’s a tragedy that a president who has done much to reboot the economy has failed to impress Americans with his efforts.
Bannon pointed out that the Washington Post-ABC poll “comes at the same time the economy added a half million new jobs in January.”
“The president, his administration and staff must do a much better job getting the good word out or Biden and his party will pay the price in 2024,” he said.
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